World Series 2021: Schedule and Predictions for Astros vs. Braves Game 1

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistOctober 26, 2021

World Series 2021: Schedule and Predictions for Astros vs. Braves Game 1

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    The first World Series collision between the Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves brings together two MLB clubs with dramatically different playoff resumes.

    The Astros have won at least one playoff series each of the past five seasons, booking three trips to the Fall Classic and winning (at least) one title over that stretch.

    Atlanta hadn't won a postseason series in nearly 20 years before beating the Miami Marlins in the NLDS last year. The Braves are in the World Series for the first time since 1999 and hoping to secure their second championship since moving to Atlanta in 1966 (1995).

    In 2021, though, both took identical paths to the championship round, needing four games to escape the Division Series and six to wrap up the Championship Series.

    They enter this series on equal footing, which could set up an all-time classic. With the action getting underway on Tuesday night, let's lay out the series schedule and make a pair of predictions for the opener.

Series Schedule

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    Game 1: Tuesday, October 26: Atlanta at Houston (Fox) 

    Game 2: Wednesday, October 27: Atlanta at Houston (Fox)

    Game 3: Friday, October 29: Houston at Atlanta (Fox)

    Game 4: Saturday, October 30: Houston at Atlanta (Fox)

    Game 5*: Sunday, October 31: Houston at Atlanta (Fox)

    Game 6*: Tuesday, November 2: Atlanta at Houston (Fox)

    Game 7*: Wednesday, November 3: Atlanta at Houston (Fox)

    *if necessary

Framber Valdez Won't Allow a Run

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    Pitching is a soft spot for the Astros, and that was true even before Lance McCullers Jr. went down. Inconsistency has been an issue for the rotation, and the bullpen has struggled with depth.

    Framber Valdez played a part in that inconsistency, even in these playoffs. He didn't make it out of the fifth inning in his first two starts, allowing a combined seven runs (six earned) over seven total innings.

    But the 27-year-old southpaw delivered when Houston needed him the most. In a critical Game 5 that would snap a 2-2 tie in the American League Championship Series, Valdez threw eight innings of one-run ball against the Boston Red Sox. He gave up just three hits and one walk while striking out five.

    This better measured up with the pitcher the Astros saw last postseason. He made four appearances in that playoff run (three starts, one relief appearance), threw at least five innings in every one and never allowed more than two runs. In all, he surrendered just five runs in 24 innings.

    Valdez's track record suggests he won't be bothered by the bright lights, and his most recent outing offers hope he has complete control of his arsenal. His combination of experience and stuff will be enough to drive him to a scoreless start in Game 1.

Houston Will Homer Its Way to Game 1 Win

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    The Astros get their most offensive mileage out of making contact, as they led the majors with a .267 average.

    Houston isn't hurting in the power department either. This team finished the regular season ninth in home runs (221), and only the Red Sox and Dodgers had more round-trippers this postseason than the Astros (13).

    While runs may not be at a premium this series—both pitching staffs can be scored upon—they could be in this contest. Atlanta will open with veteran Charlie Morton, a member of Houston's 2017 championship team, who averaged 10.5 strikeouts against 2.8 walks per nine innings across 33 starts this regular season.

    The Astros will need to maximize their at-bats, and they will by sending a couple of balls over the fence.

    There are four likely power sources in the lineup: Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve, Kyle Tucker and Carlos Correa. All four hit at least 26 homers in the regular season, even though none reached the 150-game mark. Each has homered at least once this postseason; Tucker leads the way with four and Altuve is right behind with three.

    Get a gem out of Valdez and a few long balls from this roster, and Houston should have all it needs to start this series with a home victory.

    Prediction: Astros 5, Braves 2


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